Science Fiction

June 29, 2009


25 June 09

Climate Change: He’s a NASA scientist, the world’s top climate researcher, we’re told. Of course he’s apolitical, nonpartisan, unbiased. Then why was the man who began the global warming scare arrested as an activist?

Climatologist James Hansen was one of 30 people arrested Tuesday in West Virginia while protesting mountaintop coal removal. Though not the most famous person taken into custody — that would be actress Daryl Hannah — he has some renown as the person primarily responsible for fomenting the global warming scare.

In a statement distributed by the Rainforest Action Network at the protest, Hansen tried to cover himself, saying “I am not a politician; I am a scientist and a citizen.” As much as his claim is true, it’s not an accurate indicator of the role he has carved out for himself.

While Hansen is not new to political activism, he can plausibly claim that his previous involvement in the global warming issue was based on what he’s learned from his research, that he simply feels obligated to warn the public about the dangers he discovered.

But mountaintop coal removal has only a thin connection to the speculation about global warming. Hansen himself admits that it provides “only a small fraction of our energy.”

In fact, mountaintop mining provides only 7% of all coal production. Shutting it down will have almost no effect on greenhouse gas emissions, which Hansen and others believe are heating the planet to unhealthy levels. Hansen’s participation in the protest is clear evidence that he is nothing more than an environmental activist, one who uses his scientific credentials to whip up anxiety.

Earlier this year, Hansen publicly supported civil disobedience because “the democratic process” for tackling global warming “doesn’t quite seem to be working.”

He also thinks fossil fuel company executives should be “tried for high crimes against humanity and nature” for spreading misinformation about climate change and has contributed to the presidential campaigns of Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore — or maybe it was Sen. John Kerry, since Hansen himself says he can’t recall.

Rather than do the research and let the facts alone speak, Hansen has abandoned objective science and adopted political activism.

He’s free to do that. But he should not be free to continue to collect a taxpayer-funded paycheck while working for NASA. The law forbids federal employees to engage in political activity and says those who do can be fired.

Losing his job would be no crisis for Hansen, though. He could still support himself. He would just have to find more grants like the $250,000 Heinz Award he took in 2001 from a philanthropy run by Sen. Kerry’s wife.

-our comments-

James Hansen NASA “scientist” or environmental wacko?


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